As promised, Naughty Dog's latest livestream has served up another (grisly) helping of The Last of Us Part 2 footage for players to pore over ahead of the game's June launch; there were refreshers of previously revealed mechanics, a smattering of new details, and the whole thing culminated in a sizeable slab of gameplay, showcasing stealth and extremely visceral combat.
Setting the scene with some basic story details, director Neil Druckman explained The Last of Us Part 2 picks up several years after the events of the first game, with Ellie, now 19-years-old, settled into a thriving community of survivors, situated in Jackson, Wyoming. However, after a violent incident within the commune, Ellie sets out for retribution and justice, embarking on an adventure spanning seasons and numerous gorgeously realised locations, from the the snowy mountains of Jackson to the lush Pacific Midwest.
The bulk of the action, however, is said to unfold across the former quarantine zone of Seattle, where a battle between two warring factions - the well-armed, well-trained Washington Liberation Front, which formerly resisted Seattle's military occupation, and a religious cult known as the Seraphites - rages on. The latter, also referred to as Scars due to their self-inflicted wounds, are more reliant on stealth and silent weapons when encountered in the wild.
There is, of course, a third enemy to watch out in the form of the monstrous Infected, with The Last of Us Part 2 introducing new variants, including Shamblers - large, heavily armoured enemies covered in pustules that expel spore clouds capable of burning victims. And in areas where humans and Infected are present together, they can either be eliminated one by one or played off against each other, using the ensuing chaos to progress undetected.
Elsewhere in Naughty Dog's 25-minute video - which avoided story spoilers beyond the very basics - the developer offered a brief rundown of some of Ellie's new and returning abilities.
She can ride horseback to cross the expansive environments, guide a boat across Seattle's flooded streets, and has access to new traversal mechanics for more fluid movement around the world, whether simply exploring or in combat. Climbing and jumping, for instance, are enhanced by a rope that can be used to scale vertical terrain and swing across obstacles - useful for reaching rare resources, new areas, and side narratives.
Plenty more is discussed in the video, including crafting improvements and additions, the new workbench system - enabling scavenged parts to be used to modify weapon attributes, all visualised on the weapon models themselves - and a glimpse at guard dogs, which can lead enemies to Ellie's position if she can't shake off her own scent-trail, visible in Listen Mode.
Most of these elements come together in a concluding ten-minute gameplay sequence that sees Ellie moving from the flooded streets of Seattle into an abandoned building in search of a girl named Nora; as you might expect, plenty of brutality ensues.
If you'd rather avert your eyes and save The Last of Us Part 2's deeply atmospheric sights for your own play-through, you won't have long to wait. It comes to PS4 on 19th June.